Cool Earth lava even cooler with Mars connections

What can recent lava flows teach us about running a rover on Mars? Geosciences undergraduate Trevor Miller found out during a summer internship with NASA and the National Park Service.

Working for the BASALT, or Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains, program, Miller’s team created detailed maps of lava flows at Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho. Data from the fieldwork helps researchers understand similar terrain that unmanned rovers and astronauts might face on future Mars missions.

Getting the chance to apply what he’d learned in class at small scales to a landscape full of relatively recently born igneous rocks — his favorite kind of rocks — was a real thrill for the aspiring geoscientist Miller.